Penticton weighs green building technologies

Council considers building code changes to allow for future solar panels, grey-water reuse

  • Sep. 9, 2011 6:00 p.m.

It may be a case of back to the future for green construction.

Penticton council is considering tweaking the building code to make environmentally friendly building features easier to access later, approving two committee reports on Tuesday that outlined how best to plan for green features in local developments down the road.

The city’s B.C. climate action charter compliance committee recommended council endorse the adoption of new building code regulations that all new single family homes be built to accommodate the future installation of a solar hot water system.

Coun. Garry Litke, who sits on the committee, said revisions were expected to the code anyway. “The timing is good for building changes,” he said.

The committee had been told that solar water was being used in various communities like Peachland, and hadn’t been found to be overly onerous for builders and developers — much akin to adopting low-flow technology.

“I applaud the initiative, but I’m concerned about mandating people to do something,” Coun. Judy Sentes said. “Where do you start and where do you stop mandating what you can build?”

Litke said that many requirements are already included in the city’s building codes to ensure public safety.

“It’s also becoming a province-wide trend. Penticton’s not the first to come up with this,” he said, adding it ensures a pipe can run up to the roof and still reach the south side of a building, where maximum exposure to solar rays is available.

“This roughs in the plumbing so someone can, in future, put it in,” Litke said.

Council approved the committee’s recommendation, with Sentes opposed.

The committee also recommended council should direct staff to investigate how grey water reuse, photovoltaics and electric car charge stations could be incorporated into building code regulations.

Litke said these changes will likely require more investigation given how much investment would be required.

“I would have some concerns over these changes because of the impacts they might have,” he said. “Systems like this would have to be mandated.”

Council approved the recommendation, which will prompt city staff to draw up a report detailing what would be required. It will return to council for final endorsement.